DictionVocabulary Building

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On today’s lecture of developing your writing style we’re moving on to talk about diction and vocabulary


So as we all know there are different levels of diction.

There’s formal diction she may use an academic or highly educated audience’s scholarly journals religious

sermons and so on.

Their standard diction which is a well educated audience so most common diction for college papers professional

communications and mass publications.

And then there’s the informal diction which is familiar to a specific audience something you use when

you write personal letters e-mails.

So it’s meant for conversation or entertainment.

Let’s look at a couple of examples in formal diction we have a credit similar word for standard and

we acknowledge and informal give a shout out formal delineate standard and we explain Informally we

give the lowdown and formal again a B cajole standard flatter an informal kiss up to while we look at


It’s important to realize as a college student you do not need to force yourself into formal diction.

It’s Those are words that you are not already familiar with.

Of course as you learn new words begin to incorporate those into your writing.

However no professors are going to look at your use of standard diction for example acknowledge rather

than a credit.

No professors are going to look down on that.

Professors will however look down on incorrect uses of formal diction.

So if you’re trying to use words you don’t quite understand you’re not quite familiar with and use them


That’s what professors wrote down on your addiction.

OK so when it comes to addiction and developing your own writing style it’s important to know how to

choose the level of diction you should use.

As I already mentioned for most college papers a standard level of diction is completely adequate but

within your own style you can also develop your own level of diction.

Right so the first important question is regarding your audience for whom are you writing.

Each audience has a different expectation of your diction.

They only ask what’s the purpose.

In other words what are you trying to achieve.

Are you trying to inform your audience persuade your audience illustrate to your audience.

Analyze something for your audience or to entertain your audience.

Your addiction would then shift accordingly.

So after you decide on who your audience is and what the purpose of your writing is for that audience

let me give you a few warnings in regards to addiction first.

Avoid biased language when you are passionate about a topic.

Never use racist or sexist language never use language biased against sexual orientation religion or


Avoid making moral judgments.

Never generalize groups by the actions of individuals.

So avoid terms like always and never everyone no one remember the overly formal language is pretentious.

If that’s not your standard vocabulary your standard level of diction.

Don’t try to push yourself again as a reminder don’t try to push yourself into an overly formal diction

for your college papers.

It will be viewed as pretentious.

Never use a word you cannot define if asked.

This is again along those same lines.

If you use any word in your writing that you cannot define on the spot it’s best to use a word that

you can finally keep your level of diction consistent unless shifting levels communicates a certain

idea or point.

In other words throughout your papers don’t shift between formal standard and informal back and forth.

You need to keep it consistent once you’ve chosen which level of diction you want to use and unless

within the paper you’re trying to communicate a certain idea or point and that shift in diction is exactly

what you’d like to use in order to illustrate that point.

Now on to vocabulary building.

So I’ve warned against using words we don’t already know how to define or trying to elevate our diction.

Of course writing is also a practice of learning language.

Right of building our vocabulary.

So there are two levels of vocabulary building.

The first is to transfer the words you do not recognize to recognition the next step is to transfer

those words.

You can now recognize into general use and this is why I think the balance of vocabulary building and

using an appropriate level of diction in college writing is very important.


So you should be using words at least the majority of the words you should use should be words that

you’d also be using in conversation that you’ve begun to recognize and then transferred from recognition

into general usage and in order to do that in order to be able to first recognize a word and then be

able to transfer that new recognition into general use which would then be used in your writing as well.

There are a few vocabulary building strategies.

The first is to recognize the context that the words being used and so how’s a new word being used in

the sentence.

You’ve guessed it the meaning of a word based on the context then look it up.

I recommend using the Oxford English Dictionary so you know you have the official definition and then

it’s important to look up synonym and antonym parents.

So an example of the phlegmatic having a calm disposition synonyms to be calm composed imperturbable

and antonym would be excitable.

So looking up the synonyms and antonyms pairs of new words is a great way to solidify their meaning.

And the recognition of those words into your mind so that you can transfer those words into general


Remember also that using new words is not supercilious or snobbish.

It’s an important part of your college experience is to use and it’s to learn and to use new words.

Again there’s that balance that fine balance between which new words can I already use in my writing.

Remember the rule Never use a word you cannot define if asked.

So if you’re to the point that you’ve recognized a word you’ve learned a new word and put it into general


And if I or any professor were to ask you OK what does this word mean.

And you can define it.

Then you’re ready to put it into your writing.

The conversation is a good place to experiment with new words.

The final strategy is to look up other language influences so Greek and Latin prefixes roots and suffixes

for example knowing that the Latin prefix and T means before helps understand the words Antebellum and

to seed and to chamber and so on.

German French and Hebrew have also highly influenced English.

English language.

Now I don’t recommend you going out trying to learn all these languages but looking up the the influences

from other languages is also a great way of remembering what the word is what it means and how to use


All right so I hope this helps remember you need to identify the audience you’re writing to identify

the level of diction that is appropriate for that audience and then pay attention to these warnings

that I’ve listed out at the same time remember to be an active learner of new words right.

The chance to those words that you do not already know into recognition and then from recognition into

general use and from general use into your writing.

All right and that’s it for today.

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